Sales Manager with Project Management Skills, help? Q&A

Hi Nicola, I have a long career of software sales experience and I am looking to make my next career move. My question is that I have a great deal of project management experience having delivered a number of software implementations to clients but I am always seen as “just a sales manager” – is there any advice you can give me on how I can be taken seriously as a Project Manager. Simon; Key Account Manager, West Midlands.


Hi Simon, many thanks for getting in touch – what a great question! I can see from your CV that you talk a great deal about the sales you have made and your track record is impressive. You place a lot of focus on the sales aspect which I suspect is why you are not being taken seriously for the roles which lean more towards the PM skill set. One piece of advice I will offer is that you need to be sure that your desire to focus on the PM aspect is realistic – at the end of the day there is a great deal of competition for PM roles out there and you will come up against out and out Project Managers. Should you reach interview with such stiff competition you will need a convincing reason why you wish to transition. However there are a lot of Software Project Manager roles available and most of them are strongly focussed on presales, these types of roles tend to require a good sales person to interface between the client and the development team and will do similar project management to your background – delivering integration of the product.

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Therefore I would suggest you balance your CV with information which demonstrates your strong sales track record but also talks through how you deliver projects, think about the project lifecycle and address the various aspects. Add in details on teams, stakeholders, budgets, project details and change management – let the reviewer of the CV really understand what your current and previous roles involved. Place some emphasis on key achievements which really talk about how you add value – this can be dealing with tricky customers, overcoming change and identifying/remedying bottle necks. You will put yourself in a strong position against the perceived strong competition as you have three or more core areas of competence versus the straight forward PM. I have always believed you need to have some good sales skills to be successful in Project Management, dealing with such a mixed bag of stakeholders and gaining buy-in, to be able to combine with a structured approach to managing projects you are in a strong position if you market yourself well.

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